June 26, 2015

Be Our Guest / St. Barnabas Religious Liberty Action Committee

Fortnight for Freedom affords opportunity to bear witness to importance of faith in the public arena

Three years ago, eight concerned St. Barnabas parishioners met in Indianapolis to discuss frustrations and dismay regarding the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which requires insurance plans to provide abortifacient, contraception and sterilization products. What exactly does this mean?

The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious non-profit schools, charities and health care providers must, by law, provide abortion-inducing drugs. These organizations are still contesting the ruling in court. Our meeting in 2012 resulted in the formation of the St. Barnabas Religious Liberty Action Committee, which is now a ministry under the Faith in Action Commission at St. Barnabas Parish [in Indianapolis].

Over the past three years, the right of every individual to express his or her Christian faith in the public square has diminished.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) issued in our state was settled in a manner that stated loudly and clearly that our Christian beliefs were “out of touch” and possibly discriminatory. How have we reached this point in our nation’s history when a Christian viewpoint becomes discriminatory when, in fact, it just doesn’t agree with the media and the secular portion of our society?

The RFRA legislative process is a “wake-up call” to all people of conscience to understand that our religious beliefs and freedoms, guaranteed by the First Amendment, are being seriously threatened by an increasing intolerance for Christian beliefs. Is this the society we want our children and grandchildren to experience? Of course not!

But, too often we hesitate to speak out, fearing that we will be accused of bigotry. Also, when we do speak out, our voices are ignored by much of the media. In short, our Christian beliefs have become marginalized. However, we must overcome this by courageously standing up for our faith in the midst of intolerance; this is not a choice.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, stated the following: “In the American tradition, people have a duty to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic and political problem. That’s not a privilege, and it’s not a right. It is a duty. For American Christians to do so is a demand of the Gospel and a practical expression of Christian love. Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not coercion. It is an act of truth-telling. It is an act of honesty. It’s vital to the health of every democracy.”

So exactly how do you get involved?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is celebrating its fourth annual Fortnight for Freedom, whose theme this year is the “Freedom to Bear Witness.” The celebration, which began on June 21 and runs through July 4, will focus on how religious freedom enables us to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel.

In its talking points for the Fortnight for Freedom, the USCCB states, “Through prayer, education and public action during the Fortnight for Freedom, we can promote the importance of preserving the essential right of religious freedom for now and the future, for Catholics and for those of all faiths.”

The St. Barnabas Religious Liberty Action Committee, with the support of Msgr. Anthony Volz and Father Benjamin Syberg, our pastor and associate pastor, will continue to provide our parish, as well as others, with information that will enable parishioners from all churches to understand the seriousness of the threat to our religious liberty, and what all of us need to do to preserve it.

Please get involved, stay informed and, above all, share your religious faith! We can and will be heard!

As Msgr. Volz would say: “Live the Gospel!” Put another way, we deserve what we tolerate.

(For additional information on the St. Barnabas Religious Liberty Action Committee formation process and/or receiving information about religious liberty, please contact us at 317-403-5219 or e-mail cstumpfjr@comcast.net.)

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